Quite often when traveling, it’s the out of the way places we come across that impress us the most. The larger tourist attractions are all very nice, but they’re always so busy and too well known to be special on a more personal level. No one can call the Eiffel Tower their own private little spot. It’s the smaller, unintended discoveries that tend to make the most lasting impressions. Those surprise places you stumble across when you’re not even looking for them.
Thailand is filled with these types of places. One just has to walk down an unfamiliar soi to discover a fascinating new world. Sometimes you don’t have to travel far to get a sense of wonder, sometimes what you’re looking for has been right around the corner, waiting for you your whole life.
The Tio Chew cemetery is one such place in Bangkok. It’s an old Chinese cemetery with a bit of a twist. Tuk-tuk and taxi drivers used to refuse to take passengers there at night because they believed the area was haunted. In recent years the cemetery has been renovated and now contains a gym, cafes, basketball and badminton courts and even areas where locals sing karaoke. Starting at Dawn, locals flock to the area to go for an early morning jog by the tombstones.
The whole cemetery, which was once a destitute resting place for the dead, is now brimming with life. If you’re in Bangkok, be sure to look the place up as it is one of those undiscovered gems tourists rarely get to see. It’s located right at the end of Charoen Rat soi 3 in the Sathorn area. You’ll know when you’re almost there because a lot of tombs are littered here and there around the surrounding streets.